Home>Campaigns>Kean beats parade of challengers in 7th district Republican primary

Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Kean beats parade of challengers in 7th district Republican primary

Malinowski sends home the Bacon in Democratic primary

By Joey Fox, June 07 2022 9:47 pm

The New Jersey Globe projects that former Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield) has won the Republican primary for the 7th congressional district, setting him up for a rematch with Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) after narrowly losing to the congressman in 2020. As of 10:51 p.m., Kean had 46% of the vote, while his nearest challenger, 2021 gubernatorial candidate Phil Rizzo, had 23%.

Kean, a relative moderate during his time in the New Jersey legislature, faced no fewer than six primary opponents – Rizzo, Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Franklin), businessman John Isemann, Fredon Mayor John Flora, U.S. Navy veteran Sterling Schwab, and licensed public works contractor Kevin Dorlon – most of whom ran to his right.

But Kean had a massive fundraising advantage and the endorsement of every county party in the district, making it all but impossible for any of his opponents to break away from the pack and present a serious threat. 

Malinowski, first elected against Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton) in the 2018 blue wave, technically also had his own primary to deal with. He easily dispatched Roger Bacon, a perennial candidate whose love for Donald Trump makes him an odd fit in the Democratic Party.

Two years ago, Kean came within one percentage point of defeating Malinowski, and several political factors have improved for him since then. Malinowski is under inquiry from the House Ethics Committee about his stock trades, President Joe Biden’s approval ratings are deep underwater, and the 7th district was redrawn to be several points more Republican, all of which combine to make Malinowski an underdog for re-election.

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